Traverse City, MI lush vineyards and crystal clear waters


When you’re on the road full-time with two kids, you don’t get many date nights or breaks. I love the quality time I spend with Emery and Finn, and wouldn’t have it any other way. But when we are visiting family and friends, we try to take advantage of the babysitters available.
When we were recently contacted by American RV about doing a collaboration, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for a  much needed weekend getaway for Scott and me. We left the kids with their aunt and uncle, picked up a 2017 Coachmen Freelander Class C RV, and hit the road.

2017 Coachmen Freelander

When we were choosing what type of camper to get a year ago, we had no experience using any class of RV. We weren’t sure a Class C would be big enough for a family of 4, and A class models were a bit too expensive for us. So we chose a 5th wheel with 4 slideouts and 2 bedrooms–plenty of space for us. One thing though, that has been a little disappointing about the 5th wheel is how we are sometimes restricted from going to the unique, cool campgrounds that have a limit on length of campers they’ll allow in. Then there is the process of hooking up the trailer to the hitch, and the time it takes to pack up a camper with 4 slides and lots of decorations that need to be bungeed down and stored in the sinks.

Transferring items for the weekend from the Veltkamper to the Coachmen Freelander loaned to us by American RV
Transferring items for the weekend from the Veltkamper to the Coachmen Freelander loaned to us by American RV

So the idea of an engine in a camper has always appealed to us, especially the spontaneous side of us that sometimes wants to just up and go at a moments notice. Yes, our 5th wheel is mobile, but not as mobile as an A or C class motorhome.


We asked our good friends if they wanted to join us for some wine tasting and beach lazing. We camped at Traverse City State park since it was a good central location for all the activities we wanted to do in a short 1 and a half day period.

We enjoyed a slow brunch in the camper Saturday morning and then headed up the Old Mission peninsula to check out the beach and do a little paddle boarding. Scott’s brother and his girlfriend had been camping up north already, so they met up with us.

The lake water in the northern part of Michigan is incredibly clear and looks teal when the sun shines bright. It was a little chilly though since it’s mid September.

We made our way down the peninsula to begin our winery tour. It was so fun to see the incredible views from the windows as we drove south, stopping at the beautiful vineyards as we went. We ended up at 3 different wineries, and tasted quite a few varietals. Scott was the DD, so unfortunately for him he did not get to partake.

I couldn’t get over how easy it was to all hop in the RV, roll up to the next spot, jump out, do a tasting, take photos, wander around the vines, and then hop in and get going again. And the size of the vehicle was totally manageable for every parking lot! If you’ve ever driven a 5th wheel or A class before, you might have experienced the embarrassment and annoyance of getting stuck and having to reverse out of a windy driveway or full parking lot. The size of this Coachmen Freelander was perfect.

chateau chantal

We easily pulled right up next to the rows of grape vines and enjoyed the sunset.

We did loads of wine tasting in California, so it was really interesting to compare how the vineyards were in Michigan. We were definitely thrilled with the views we got on Old Mission Peninsula.

walking through grape vines

After a full day of tasting, we headed back to Traverse City to eat some dinner and set up camp again at the state park. Another thing I loved about this C Class was how easy it was to set up! It was also very comfortable and spacious, considering the size difference from our 5th wheel. The master bed was cozy and we got a great night’s sleep (maybe the wine helped with that too?)

The next day we went up to Torch Lake because we had heard such great things about the calm, clear waters. We busted out the paddle board again and took turns going out on the turquoise water. There was basically no one else at the beach, or on the water, and the weather was perfection.

I was in complete awe of the beauty at this lake. I definitely plan to return in the summer when the water is a bit warmer!

After a few hours of lounging by the lake, we made a quick lunch in the camper and headed back to Grand Rapids. Since we had one more day with the RV we picked up the kids and went to Holland Beach State Park for a night of camping by the lake. We didn’t want the kids to miss out on this fun RV experience!

We spent the evening looking at the stars on the beach, playing guitar, and enjoying the peaceful quiet of the Lake Michigan coast.


They loved the bunks and riding in the camper while driving around, as opposed to riding in the truck towing our 5th wheel.


They always love a day on the beach, and since it was a Monday and school was in session, we had it practically to ourselves!

Scott actually worked on the ride back into Grand Rapids while I drove. I have never driven a camper at all and this was so easy! I was intimidated for no reason.


We had such an amazing weekend; I was sad to bring the C Class back in to American RV and get back to regular life! I definitely recommend checking out this style of camper to anyone who wants to go on adventures and have the ability to be spontaneous. In fact, I highly recommend the idea of taking a camper on a weekend trip to wine country! It’s more affordable than a hotel or air bnb and it’s more fun!


Thanks again to American RV for this opportunity. Check out their website to see their rental fleet if you’re interested in a trip like this and also peek at their new and used campers for sale if you’re in the market for purchasing one.



  1. Loved your great weekend adventure. That RV will spoil you, I’m betting. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Good story of travels in a beautiful part of the world. Thanks also for the comparison between the two campers.

  3. Great Read!
    Fantastic Idea!
    My Sister in Law is getting married next October. I think I am going to look into this for her get away Bachelorette Party. So perfect.

  4. thank you for the pictures , ive never been there but want to go my mom lived there as a child , and I want to see it ..

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